You're pregnant! Congratulations! This is an amazing time in your life and you have a lot of decisions to make. One of the most important decisions you'll make is what kind of prenatal care to have.
Our society has programmed us to believe that we need to have an OBGYN and be monitored, tracked, and checked throughout our entire pregnancy. And, what this does for most women is cause more stress during a time when that is the last thing you need. That is not fun. It actually may even lead to problems that would not have occurred if that added stress of going to those appointments weren't there. Not to mention the time off work, finding and paying a sitter, your partner needing to take time off, gas, and the time it takes you to line all of that up. So that's what we're going to talk about today. Can you do your own prenatal checks with the guidance of a Birthkeeper, Traditional Birth Attendant, or Elder Midwife?
Yes, you can.
Prenatal care today consists of generally three things being tracked at each of your appointments. Although there are other (many unnecessary) things added in along the way throughout your pregnancy. (I’m sure I will cover them at some point in a later blog.)
- Weight - Is not a fundamental part of your experience and isn’t an indication of whether you're going to have problems or not, can be declined, and you can track at home. For many women, weight is always a stress point. No, you're not high risk just because of your weight. I'm sorry, that is just not true.
- Blood Pressure - Checking your blood pressure when you go to the doctor is known to cause higher readings than normal. Do you know that your BP is higher at the doctor's office than when you're at home? Do you have white coat syndrome, knowing that going to the doctor makes you a little nervous and your heart starts beating faster, working harder, and ultimately raising your BP?
- Fundal Height - A simple measurement of your uterus that grows with each passing week of pregnancy.
So, is it worth the stress to track those three things through multiple appointments with an OBGYN?
Or could you learn to take your blood pressure in the comfort of your own home, learn to measure and track your own fundal height, and weigh yourself as you choose to? Then you are tracking the growth of your baby and your progress on your own.
There are many birth workers who can attend to your care and your birth, like a birthkeeper, a traditional birth attendant, or an elder midwife. Many will also teach you how to do the things above and inform you of your options along the way leaving all decisions up to you.
YOU get to make that choice. Do you believe that your body was created to do this and that it’s gonna do it with or without somebody checking your weight, blood pressure, and fundal height?
What's the need of checking all their boxes so that they can put you in a box down the road?
So, what are you going to do? Are you gonna go to the OBGYN (who probably doesn’t even know your name without his chart) or choose more personalized care with someone who will teach you to do your own prenatals and who believes in the ability of you and your body?
In-home BP machines are pretty easy to find and use at your convenience if and when you feel the need to.
These simple retractable tape measures are handy and easy to use for measuring your fundal height.
There's little to nothing that outside care is going to do to change your pregnancy and birth experience, nothing. When you allow the system to have a voice in your care, and in that experience, that is where you will often run into issues. So if you want to have an empowered birth, start learning now and start with doing your own prenatals. Even if you do see an OB when it's something that you feel you need to do, you don't have to go to all the appointments.